Leeds United signed Pascal Struijk from Ajax in January 2018 and he initially was part of the club’s U23 side.

The 20-year-old was handed the first team debut by Marcelo Bielsa in his side’s 2-0 victory over Hull City on December 10th. He came off the bench in stoppage time and again was used as a late substitute in the Whites 3-3 draw against Cardiff City last month.

Struijk started his youth career with ADO Den Haag before Ajax signed him for their academy in 2016. After spending 18 months with the Dutch champions, the centre-back joined the Championship side.

Voetbalzone have a section called ‘Over de Grens’ for which they interview Dutch players who are playing abroad, and for the latest edition they spoke to Struijk. He explains why he decided to join Leeds, even though it wasn’t an easy choice.

“It seemed like a very good step to develop myself as a player. It was a difficult choice, because I was a little worried about living alone abroad,” he said.

“But now that I have done it all, I think it has been a very good step. Not only for football, but also in terms of personal development.”        

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When Struijk arrived at Elland Road, Paul Heckingbottom was in charge of the first team for six months and was then replaced by Bielsa in the summer of 2018. The Leeds player stressed the arrival of Bielsa has had a huge impact on the club.

“When Marcelo entered the club, it was turned upside down. Really like there was something completely new,” Struijk explained.

“The difference is quite big, there are higher demands and the club has changed completely inside and out. I was very enthusiastic when I heard he became our manager. It only gives me more drive.

“The goal has always been to go back to where we belong, the Premier League. With Marcelo we have a very big chance of doing it. I would love to go to the Premier League with Leeds. I did a little research and when that happens, I think so many fans will be happy. Those Leeds supporters are incredible.”